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The Cannabis Industry’s Impact on the Environment

Mother Earth’s celebration day is coming up – what are you bringing to the party? Lucky for you, the earth doesn’t need a gift wrapped in a bow. In fact, that’s exactly what she wants to reduce. Minimize plastic, minimize styrofoam, minimize the carbon footprint that we as people can’t help but leave behind. When we ask: “What are you bringing to the party?”, we’re really asking: “What steps have you taken or plan on implementing for the health of this planet?” We’re not a fully sustainably operating company by any means, but we are working on it. You can find our commitments with a timeline of actionable steps towards the betterment of the Earth and the community in this Open Letter to the Cannabis Industry

 

The legal cannabis industry is still relatively new, and the rise of small businesses in this field coincides with the  mounting environmental crisis we face.  As a result, many companies in this field built their business with sustainability woven into their blueprints. However, we are far from a sustainable industry. Growing cannabis, particularly indoor, has left a gigantic carbon footprint on the map largely due to its electricity production, natural gas consumption (from indoor environmental controls), grow lights, water pollution, etc. According to the global footprint network, manufacturing a single joint emits 1.5kg of CO2 emissions ( roughly equivalent to leaving a 100-watt lightbulb on all day). As the legal industry continues to grow, it is every cannabis company’s responsibility to keep sustainability at the forefront of their minds and CO2 emissions low. 

 

Easier said than done, trust us, we know. While growing cannabis outdoors is much more eco-friendly, it’s not nearly as stable and reliable as growing cannabis indoor. Unless you live in a state where the weather is reliable and the winter months are short, outdoor farming is just not a realistic option for many businesses. Here at BARBARI, we source our hemp flower from High Desert Nectar, a family owned business in Bend, Oregon cultivating hemp in an outdoor environment. 

 

This is only covering the CO2 emissions. Don’t forget there’s also the actual waste from the packaging/products and every little bit of material used to operate the business. Are you using recyclable or biodegradable materials? Do you have a refill program?  Unfortunately, refill programs were one of the many business practices that were affected by the pandemic due to most dispensaries not wanting to take back items from customers at this time. Plus in the THC line of business, there’s an extra layer of resistance that needs to be faced as certain states require child lock packaging solutions (which simultaneously also means single use packaging). Of course, it’s the 21st century, and that means eco-friendly child resistant packaging solutions exist, however you can expect to pay a considerable amount more money for it. Wherever possible, cannabis brands should opt for packaging made from recycled materials. If you are unfamiliar with any, this article contains a list of companies that supply eco-friendly packaging. 

 

With every cannabis business involved, we can grow the industry in the right, eco-friendly direction together. It takes every business to do their part in understanding their CO2 and waste emissions, and making it a priority to minimize them as much as possible. This should be a part of each business’s goals, like hitting revenue benchmarks or winning a particular award. We already have the information we need, now all that’s left to do is to take action.

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